Egyptian authorities have opened the controversial giant sarcophagus unearthed earlier this month, despite warnings from Internet doomsayers that it will unleash a curse on the world.
No, there was no such thing. However, authorities did find three skeletons soaking in a malodorous bath of red sewage water.
"The sarcophagus has been opened, but we have not been hit by a curse," says Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt.
Not Alexander The Great
The discovery dashes hopes of finding the body of Alexander the Great. When archaeologists stumbled upon the sarcophagus in Alexandria in northern Egypt, armchair pundits have raised expectations that it could be the corpse of the celebrated Macedonian ruler.
An initial analysis of the sarcophagus dated it back to the Ptolemaic period, a time after Alexander had conquered the area before he died in 323 BC.
His body was never found. Historians say Alexander himself asked that his body had to be thrown into the Euphrates River, though rumors that he must be lying somewhere in an unopened grave are rife.
3 Skeletons And A Lot Of Sewage
Images shared by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities show the sarcophagus is filled with liquid sewage. It is unclear how it got there, but it must have seeped in at some point, authorities say.
Archaeologists present at the opening had to leave the sarcophagus for an hour to allow the odor to dissipate. Upon closer inspection, they saw that one of the three skeletons had a fracture in the skull, most likely from being hit by an arrow.
According to Waziri, no special inscriptions, amulets, small statues, or metallic masks were found that could indicate that the skeletons belonged to members of the Ptolemaic elite.
The most possible explanation, for now, is that the skeletons belonged to soldiers who died in one of the many battles that took place after Alexander died.
Following his death, a line of pharaohs sprung from one of Alexander's generals, most of whom were involved in wars against the Roman Empire.
It is possible that the individuals found in the sarcophagus were soldiers who died in battle during one of the wars. However, it is still unclear why they were put together in one sarcophagus.
Giant Black Sarcophagus Discovered
Archaeologists found the sarcophagus in a construction site at the Sidi Gaber neighborhood in Alexandria. They also discovered an alabaster bust, which they speculated could represent the individual inside the sarcophagus.
Measuring 9 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 6 feet tall, the sarcophagus is the largest found in Alexandria. It was found with a thick layer of mortar between the lid and the body, suggesting that the sarcophagus has never been opened since it was sealed 2,000 years ago.
It is very rare for archaeologists to find an intact sarcophagus, even one that is not of this size since grave robbers and looters would have pillaged most of them over the centuries.